Watching TV talk shows these days on Pakistani new channels requires high-level de-riddling skills to decipher the meanings. Bursting with ideas, they have a lot to say. But usually indirectly, through their flawless wordplay and exceptional hold on vocabulary. A nation skilled at wordplay and indirect speech, we are gradually fulfilling the criteria of a post-truth society. As a nation we have become the captives of our self-created paradigms surrounded by choreographed narratives and in the land of the pure, the notion of questioning those paradigms has become synonymous with blasphemy. The constitution however, forbids maligning. But prudence can circumvent sometimes. It is not very often that they discuss them in public domains or in TV talk shows, but when they do caution and the right selection of words are the key aspects of the discussion. Deep state, as they are called by some, is dragged into these debates mostly by newbies in the realm of political discourse. However, some seasoned ones, when stretched to their limits, also burst out at them but with cautious wordplay. Their relationship is complex. To some, it’s against the spirit of freedom of speech to be held back while criticising, but to many, it’s indispensable for national security — something closely associated with nationalism. The hidden hands, as some like to call them, are believed to fashion the system in ways that suits them the most. In Maryam Nawaz’s post-victory speech for the NA-120 seat, she augmented the narrative of her father by claiming that PML-N not only defeated its opponents in NA-120 but also those at the national level. This game of wordplay surely fascinates the audience and serves the purpose very well The political elite believe it is shackled by these hidden hands. In a recent press conference, a senior leader from PML-N called them the ‘Gods of our Earth’ by pointing out to their alleged non-cooperation with parliamentary committees on sharing of information. Similarly, in Maryam Nawaz’s post-victory speech for the NA-120 seat, she augmented the narrative of her ousted father by claiming that PML-N not only defeated the powers inside the political field of NA-120 but also outside the field. This game of wordplay surely fascinates the audience and serves the purpose as well. But if history is an indication, it is surely detrimental to the system. This ‘war of words’ has surged manifold in the recent past. The liberal left, which is in somewhat an open confrontation with the ‘Third Umpire’ – as referred to by some — has taken it to international media to lambaste the role of those entities in running state affairs. Their call for total civil supremacy is corroborated by western politics which consider the ‘deep-state’ an impediment for democratisation of Pakistan. This is partly due to direct interventions of throwing off civilian governments in the past and partly because of their stringent control on foreign and defense policies of the country. The wordplay feud has, exacerbated, so much so, that some in Pakistan are quick to compare the ramifications of the rising tensions to that of Turkey. What they are unable to interpret-because of their wishful thinking- is that a civilian government under Erdogan in Turkey had delivered to its masses- the reason young Turkmen laid in front of army tanks. Layman Pakistanis, on the other hand, when frustrated by the socio-economic deprivations, go to the extent of wishing that the ‘March of the boots’ descend on the civilian government. Erdogan might be revered by our politicians in the aftermath of defusing an orchestrated coup d’état and reclaiming control of the junta, none, howsoever, strive to improve governance like him. The question that we must ask ourselves is why the ‘Third Umpire’ is so reluctant to yield powers that are meant to be relinquished for the civilians? Is the premise rooted in history? Or it is the ineptness of the civilians that has given way to the ‘Hidden hands’ to operate with impunity? These are tough questions and require serious consideration of the political elite. As for now, we, as political spectators, shall only witness the game of wordplay that our politicians and political commentators play with sheer caution. The writer is a political commentator, public speaker and part of a governmental body in Pakistan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, October 6th 2017.